Incumbent Second Ward Councilor David DeLong lost in his bid for a third consecutive term Tuesday as fellow incumbent Brad Ness earned a second term on the council. 

With both of the ward's precincts reported, challenger Jami Reister narrowly defeated DeLong with 1,460 votes to DeLong's 1,302 — 52.7% to 47%.

The Second Ward covers the south side of the city. DeLong first served on the council in the 1990s and returned in 2012.

In running, Reister, a family medicine physician, cited affordable housing, economic issues, transportation and the fallout from COVID-19 as top local issues. She said filing for office wasn’t something she initially considered but came to realize that doing so was part of the democratic process. She wanted to ensure the voices of all Second Ward residents were heard. DeLong said he ran because he believed his experience and cautious approach to government spending are needed, especially during the COVID-19 era.

Reister said Wednesday she is “grateful for Mr. DeLong’s service to the city.” She noted her appreciation of the support of Ward 2 voters.

To her, the city must be diligent in keeping its citizens safe and healthy during the pandemic while addressing any budget shortfalls and tackling the affordable housing shortage. To her, the council must improve communication with voters.

“That is an important first step,” she said.

DeLong said he had congratulated Reister as of about 9 p.m.

"It's a tough year for elections," he noted. "You don't know how to campaign and what's going on ... I'm a little disappointed, but I have a couple of things to finish up before I go off."

DeLong said his main message continues to be that the city must be "a little more careful" with its spending, noting the financial impacts of COVID-19 and the many people who are in a more precarious position than they were months ago.

"It wouldn't hurt to cut back a little," he said. "The votes weren't there, so we'll see. Good luck to the council."

Ness earns election to second term

With seven of eight precincts reporting, Ness had 5,293 votes to the 3,381 Livingston had — 60.6% to 38.7%. Sixty write-in votes had been cast.

Ness said the most pressing issue for Northfield is the uncertainty of one of the city’s main sources of income, Local Government Aid. Livingston, a veteran, said he wanted to see a better relationship in Northfield between “emerging activism,” existing clubs and other groups.

A lifelong resident and St. Olaf College graduate, Ness has served on the council since 2017. His appointments have included serving as a Hospital Board liaison, Convention and Visitors Bureau chair and roles undertaken with other city groups. He has served as the city’s mayor pro temp.

“I’m just humbled and honored that the voters have confidence enough in me to allow me to serve a second term," Ness said. "I’ve learned a lot in the last four years and still have a lot to learn, but I’m up to the challenges.”

Livingston said he “needed a lot more effort,” in running his campaign. Still, he said he plans on seeking an appointment to a board or commission. He said his overarching theme during the election was his intention to move ahead as a community with more voices in the decision-making process.

Zuccolotto captures 3rd Ward race

George Zuccolotto defeated Don Stager in a tight contest for the Third Ward race Tuesday.

Polls show with both precincts reporting, Zuccolotto had received 1,107 votes — 52.6%. Stager received 978 votes — 46.5%.

Zuccolotto, who was 24 at the time he filed for office, said there was a lack of representation for people of color on the council. He said Ward 3 is the most racially diverse section of the city, and he believes someone who looks like the average resident should be its representative. To him, there was too much of an emphasis “on the bottom line” in Northfield, and too little regard for residents and their humanity.

Stager, who moved to Northfield in February 2019, is a product manager. He wanted to continue the growth of solar and wind energy, help ease the transition of using cars to more environmentally friendly ways of transportation, and have the city better market the Mill Towns Trail route. He acknowledged the immediate focus must be on addressing COVID-19 and being good stewards for taxpayers during the economic downturn. He said the city must consider approaches to increasing the housing supply.

This is a developing story. Look to the News for more information as it is released. 

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115. © Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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